Apple’s first hardware specific event since October last year has been and gone like a fevered dream. With it we have seen big changes to Apple’s tick-tock release strategy: two new iPhone models, a discontinuation of last years’ flagship model, and the dock connector remains to live another day.
The event held in Apple’s on campus Town Hall lasted just over an hour and a half. The speed the event progressed at was blistering, no room to go off track just a highly focused product unveiling. 40 minutes into the event we had already seen both new products, a brief demo of iOS 7, iLife and iWork for iOS Were made free to all and we had updates on retail, and iTunes. No fuss no muss.
The more traditional ‘s’ update was detailed as anticipated, however the upgrade was far more impressive than I had expected. Dubbed the “Most forward-thinking iPhone yet”, but what does that mean?
The most impressive update for me is the A7 processor, a 64-bit custom system on a chip designed by Apple. The first 64-bit processor in a smartphone and Apple have also rebuilt iOS 7 to be the worlds first 64-bit mobile operating system. They’ve been busy in Cupertino! This will likely mean a big improvement to the performance of running more intensive apps, and will pave the way for new and amazing smartphone apps. I believe that this is what Apple mean by “Forward-Thinking”, It sets up developers for creating new and powerful apps (apps being the one thing many people agree on that really differentiates Android from iOS).
Apple refer to this new processor as ‘desktop-class architecture’, I wonder if Apple are looking into using Apple Designed ARM based processors in their iMac/Macbook line up. It’s something that has been rumoured before, and if Apple are making such rapid progress in chip design then surely it won’t be long until these chips hit the big time. Again, forward-thinking? Possibly.
Apple have also design a co-processor dubbed the M7 to constantly measure motion data and allows apps to access this data without having to engage the A7 chip. Apps like Moves and Human will benefit greatly from this, resulting in more accurate information and better battery management. We can expect it to produce some truly innovative apps.
The M7 makes the iPhone as effective as wearable devices such as the Fitbit, or Jawbone UP, which sounds almost like Apple are preparing developers for true wearable devices in the future.
As usual for new iPhone releases, the iSight camera got a decent boost in the 5s. Apple are sticking with the same 8MP camera but are making changes where they matter: a 15% larger sensor, and a larger aperture at ƒ/2.2 to let in 33% more light that the previous sensor, all resulting in better looking images.
The camera also includes a new dual-flash, new burst shooting mode and the ability to record slo-mo video at 720p. Some of these features have been called gimmicky but we won’t really know how well these new features will work in the everyday until it’s released to the public.
All in all the camera has become much more intelligent, partly thanks to the processor and hardware but mostly thanks to the the updated software.
Apple stated that over 50% of people do not bother using a passcode to protect the content on their phones. 50% is a startling amount of phones and a pretty good rate for any thief.
The Touch ID fingerprint scanner firstly takes aim at protecting the content on users phones from prying eyes, secondly it aims to replace passwords in an extremely convenient way. Apple said that users simply place their finger of choice on the home button and almost instantly the phone unlocks, Touch ID is designed to be faster than entering a four-digit passcode and so far the reviews correspond to this claim. Touch ID can also be used to login to your iTunes account – no more having to type in your iTunes password to buy an app.
Let’s look at how this can fit into the “Most forward-thinking iPhone yet” claim. It’s been claimed that this could be the beginning of the end for the password. As security goes passwords are tricky, to be truly secure passwords need to be long, but the longer they get the more likely they can be forgotten, because of this most passwords used are relatively insecure. Whilst biometric sensors are not 100% foolproof this is the first step in a potential security revolution and no doubt we’ll see biometric readers in competing products. Some have called it out as being a gimmick, maybe it is at the moment, but let’s see how it works in the real world.
If anything, Touch ID coupled with the improvements to Find my iPhone in iOS 7 (you now need to enter your iTunes password in order to wipe the phone or turn off the service) will do a lot to deter thieves.
“It’s the vivid realisation of hardware and software together in one device.”
The iPhone 5c is an extension to Jony Ive’s iOS 7 redesign, brightly coloured, capable, and working in tandem to create a cohesive device experience in software and hardware. The default wallpapers now match the colour of the device which with the parallax effect in iOS 7 gives a sense of looking through the phone to the back of the case, again, it’s all about depth in iOS 7 and the 5c extends this.
The most surprising thing is also the most telling: it replaces the iPhone 5. As such it’s priced accordingly, and why wouldn’t it be? The iPhone 5c has the same internals as the 5 just with a new exterior design that incorporates colours. No less an iPhone than the 5 and in no way compromised. It was never intended to be cheap, but to hit younger and emerging markets: those snapchat using, selfie posting, tumblr addicted, emoji posting Teens and Tweens. There has been swirling anecdotes among those younger than I, that the iPhone was starting to be seen as boring, and a phone your parents would have. The 5c (and importantly iOS 7) looks to change this perception, and when you compare it to Samsung’s latest faux leather backed Note 3 it no doubt looks younger, fresher, and friendlier.
It also has the added benefit of looking completely different to the 5/5s. Customers looking to upgrade will be able to make a clear differentiation of the two products rather than struggle to see any difference between two devices that look almost Identical.
Although most of the details were leaked leading up to the event, there were still some pleasant surprises in store particularly for the iPhone 5s. Nothing on a refresh to the iPod line or updated iPads, which are rumoured to be refreshed come the end of October.
This event firmly reinforces the fact that Apple wants the iPhone to remain seen as a premium brand, the pricing structure for the 5c was never meant to be cheap but a ‘New’ mainstream product. Much like the plastic white MacBook was aimed at the average consumer (which coincidentally was the best selling Macintosh in history at the time) the 5c targets the same group of people with the 5s being the MacBook Pro of iPhones.